“We [withdrew troops] in phases. And because we did it in phases, we were continually able to build up Iraqi forces to a point where when we left the cities, violence didn’t go up in the cities; when we further reduced our footprint, violence didn’t go up. And I have no doubt that that will continue.” – Barack Obama, December 12, 2011
The violence however was actually building up. Al Qaeda in Iraq was neither beaten nor under control at this point. The positive effects still lingering were a result of Bush era measures.
Two weeks after Obama said that, a series of coordinated bombings shook Baghdad with 14 bombs targeting 11 neighborhoods that killed 69 people and wounded hundreds.
Experts warned that Al Qaeda was taking advantage of the withdrawal of US troops.
In Washington, the White House condemned the bombings and said attempts to derail progress in Iraq will fail. Press secretary Jay Carney said the attacks serve no agenda “other than murder and hatred.”
“Such horrible blasts have occurred just one week after the American withdrawal, and then imagine what would happen after one month or one year after the Americans leaving,” said Abdul Rahman Qassim, a 46-year-old lawyer in the northern city of Mosul.
In January 2012, Al Qaeda in Iraq again carried out large scale bombings in Baghdad and across Iraq. The worst of these killed 70 people. An incessant wave of suicide bombs and car bombs, hardly reported in the US media, followed that month.
A surge in attacks since the U.S. pullout has killed more than 200 people last month and raised fears of a reprise of a conflict five years ago that was close to all-out civil war.
That was a year ago. Now Al Qaeda in Iraq is not only a serious terrorist group, but it’s bigger and more powerful than ever. There is little doubt that Obama got the necessary security briefings and that his people chose to spin them, as they did Libya and Egypt, to make the disastrous policies of their boss look good.